Rory v Jordan. Most eagerly anticipated. But this particular duel, rather disappointingly, turned out to be a non-contest.
If Rory’s the golfer we all want to be, then Jordan’s the guy you dread being drawn against.
Their approach to the game could hardly be more different, which makes them a fascinating case study.
McIlroy’s great strengths are his poise, swagger and power, his long game peerless, his ball-striking truly a matter of awe.
Spieth is all about getting the job done and he appears to be better from inside 20 feet than just about anyone who has ever played the game.
McIlroy’s driving is his strongest suit – booming, towering draws are de rigeur – and the nearer he is to the hole then the less impressive, relatively speaking, he is.
Rory v Jordan – opposites
Spieth is the diametric opposite. He’s often crooked from the tee, and much shorter. People with far greater expertise than me in the mechanics of the golf swing will explain this is on account of a strong grip and a relatively steep angle of attack – the Texan effectively has to hold off all his shots to prevent them from going left.
His long game is all about getting him into a position from where he can unleash his short game. His wedge play is phenomenal and once he can see the white of the cup then you are almost filling in the scorecard before he has pulled the putter back (and, in fairness, you would have plenty of time to do so because among the phenom’s many admirable virtues, playing quickly isn’t one of them).
Temperamentally, too, in the match-up of Rory v Jordan they are poles apart. Jordan is all chatter and body English, pleading with his ball and in constant conversation with his caddy.
Rory says much less, and is not demonstrative in the same way.
But Jordan is always ready to play his next shot, mentally. Like Tiger Woods before him, he seems to have mastered the art of getting a bad shot out of your system and then moving on.
The bad shots seem to do nothing apart from spur him on to redouble his efforts. There are more of them than you might expect for a man who could have won all four Majors last season but never are they compounded. Instead the wrong is invariably righted and on he progresses.